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Filipino startup Packworks raised $60K government funding to develop AI-powered tool

For the purpose of launching a $85,000 AI-powered precision marketing tool for “sari-sari” stores—neighbourhood mom-and-pop shops—the Filipino startup Packworks has obtained PHP3.5 million ($60,000) from the Philippine government.

The company announced in a statement on Thursday that it has obtained funding for research through the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) Startup Grant Fund (SGF) Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the Philippines.

Packworks has allocated PHP 1.5 million ($25,000) to develop a precision marketing model powered by machine learning. With this funding, the company will be able to offer sari-sari stores personalized recommendations on items that they can sell as well as promotions from Packworks’ fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) partners.

“Through this AI-powered model we will develop in partnership with DOST, we aim to equip small entrepreneurs with data-driven insights and targeted strategies for enhanced business success and expansion,” said Packworks Chief Data Officer and Project Lead Andoy Montiel.

The statement claims that Packworks’ Sari.PH Pro app will offer the AI-powered feature as an in-app service. It is anticipated that this will help the app’s network of more than 270,000 sari-sari stores throughout the Philippines.

“We are elated to be collaborating with DOST through a shared vision to energize the grassroots retail industry in the country,

“This public-private partnership will be instrumental in addressing the unique challenges faced by sari-sari stores, providing them with the tools and insights needed to thrive in a competitive and increasingly digitized market,” Packworks Chief Executive Officer Bing Tan said.

“We look forward to leveraging AI-driven solutions to empower these stores, enhance their operational efficiency, and drive economic growth at the grassroots level,” he added.

In order to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and provide over 1.3 million micro retail stores nationwide with data-driven inventory management tools to boost business growth, Packworks, a Filipino startup, offers a business-to-business (B2B) FMCG marketplace for sari-sari stores.

94 percent of Filipinos rely on sari-sari stores for their daily necessities, but despite this, the stores frequently struggle with issues like poor financial management, a dearth of useful customer data, and poor marketing campaigns.

Moreover, retailers are unable to successfully attract and retain customers due to the current lack of an efficient method for obtaining premium promotions from FMCG manufacturers, such as price breaks or customized item packages.

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) comprise a significant 99.5 percent of all business establishments in the Philippines, including sari-sari stores.

About 500,000 of them work in the retail and wholesale sectors.




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